Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

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Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
Born (1978-11-26) November 26, 1978 (age 35)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Occupation Poet, Writer
Nationality USA
Literary movement Slam Poetry
Notable works Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam

Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz (born 26 November 1978) is an American poet and writer. Most recently, she has been awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry[1] and the 2013 Amy Clampitt Residency.[2]


A native of Philadelphia, Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz graduated from Central High School of Philadelphia in 1996 and received a B.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from New York University in 2000. Her brother, Kevin Aptowicz, is a professor of Physics at West Chester University.[3]


Aptowicz was introduced to the New York City Poetry Slam community by NYU classmate, Beau Sia.[4] In November 1998, at age 19, she founded the NYC-Urbana Poetry Slam series.[5] NYC-Urbana was the formal continuation of a poetry slam series started by Bob Holman and as of 2008, has earned three National Poetry Slam Championships: 1997 (as Team Mouth Almighty), 2000 and 2002.[6] Aptowicz was a member of the 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2010 NYC-Urbana Poetry Slam teams.[6] Well-known poets who have been on NYC-Urbana Poetry Slam teams including Taylor Mali, Beau Sia, Anis Mojgani and Sarah Kay, among others.[6] Aptowicz was also the 2010 Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWps) representative for NYC-Urbana.[7] As of 2014, NYC-Urbana Poetry Slam is still held weekly at the New York City's Sidewalk Cafe.

Aptowicz is the author of six books of poetry, including the recently released The Year of No Mistakes (Write Bloody Publishing, 2013).[8] Aptowicz's previous book of poetry was Everything is Everything, which Write Bloody Publishing released in January 2010. In 2011, Write Bloody Publishing also re-released Aptowicz's first four books -- Dear Future Boyfriend (2000), Hot Teen Slut (2001), Working Class Represent (2003) and Oh, Terrible Youth (2007) -- which had originally been published by the Ann Arbor basement press, The Wordsmith Press.[9]

Aptowicz appeared in the concert film Taylor Mali & Friends Live at the Bowery Poetry Club and in the documentary Slam Planet (2006).[10] In 2003, she served the overseas mentor for Mouth Off!, a youth poetry show commissioned by the Sydney Opera House.[11] She frequently tours with poets Buddy Wakefield, Derrick Brown and Anis Mojgani on their "poetry revival tours," joining them on their 2008 Junkyard Ghost Revival tour,[12] 2009 Elephant Engine High Dive Revival tour[13] and 2010 Night Kite Revival tour.[14]

In November 2010, it was announced that Aptowicz had been awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry.[1] She is one of only handful of "slam poets" who have won NEA grants. As of 2011, the other poets are Hal Sirowitz (who was on the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Poetry Slam team in 1993,[15] and won an NEA Fellowship in Poetry in 1994[16]); Jeffrey McDaniel (who was on numerous DC and California slam teams in the mid to late 1990s, and won a NEA Fellowship in Poetry in 2003[16]); and Adrienne Su (who was on the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Poetry Slam team in 1991,[15] and won a NEA Fellowship in Poetry in 2007[17]).

In February 2012, it was announced that Aptowicz had been awarded the 2013 Amy Clampitt Residency.[2] The residency takes place in the former residence of poet Amy Clampitt and provides "an established or emerging poet or literary scholar with the rare gift of extended time and a reasonable stipend so that he or she may substantially further his or her creative work."[18] Aptowicz is the first poet from a poetry slam background to be awarded this residency.[19]


Aptowicz has published non-fiction essays and articles in such publications as Bust magazine,'s Poetry Channel and the spoken word anthology Word Warriors.[20]

In 2008, Soft Skull Press published Aptowicz's Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam.[21] U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins wrote that the book "leaves no doubt that the slam poetry scene has achieved legitimacy and taken its rightful place on the map of contemporary literature"[22] and the Washington Post named it one of five Notable Books on Exploring Poetry in 2008.[23] Aptowicz spent 4 years writing the book, which "explores the birth, growing pains and continuing development of the Poetry Slam."[21] The book features interviews with Saul Williams, Maggie Estep, Bob Holman and Slamnation director Paul Devlin, among others.

Aptowicz also penned the non-fiction screenplay, Mütter, a screenplay based on the life of Mütter Museum founder Thomas Dent Mütter. The screenplay would go on to win the 2003 "Set In Philadelphia" Screenwriting Award at the Philadelphia Film Festival[24] and a Sloan Foundation Fellowship at the 2004 Hampton International Film Festival.[25] In 2005, she was invited to attend the 2005 Sloan Film Summit in support of the screenplay, and was commissioned to write an article about her experiences at the Summit by New York City's Museum of the Moving Image.[26] As of 2008, the screenplay remains unproduced, although a short based on the feature-length script was created as a part of the Philadelphia Film Festival prize package.[27]

In 2010, Aptowicz was named the 2010-2011 University of Pennsylvania ArtsEdge Writer-in-Residence. She will be using the residency to work on "a non-fiction book about the life and times of Thomas Dent Mutter."[28] The Mütter Museum has granted Aptowicz full access to their museum, library and archives for the duration of the residency so that she may conduct her research for the book, and the Mütter Museum's Francis C. Wood Institute for the History of Medicine has additionally awarded Aptowicz with a Wood Institute Travel Grant to help further fund and support her work on this project.[28]

In April 2013, it was announced that Aptowicz's biography of Mütter will be published in Fall 2014 by the Gotham Books division of Penguin.[29] The title of the book, Dr. Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine was announced in March 2014.[30]

Published works[edit]


Audio CDs[edit]

  • Sass Machine, 2001


Collections in which Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz's work is included

CD Anthologies[edit]

Collections in which Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz's work is included

  • Excellence in the Field of Awesomeness (The Wordsmith Press, 2009)
  • Attack of the Urbanabots (The Wordsmith Press, 2007)
  • New High Score (The Wordsmith Press, 2004)
  • Best of Urbana 2003 (The Wordsmith Press, 2003)
  • Prayer Wheel Junkies: Best of the Kalamazoo Poetry Slam 2002 (KPS, 2002)
  • Urbana: Bowery Poetry Club (The Wordsmith Press, 2002)
  • Spoken Word Underground (The Wordsmith Press, 2001)
  • NYC Slams (Anthology) (PoetCD, 2000)


  • Winner: Writer-in-Residence: Amy Clampitt House (2013)[31]
  • NEA Fellowship: National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship for Poetry (2011)[1]
  • Winner: Writer-in-Residence University of Pennsylvania (2010–2011)[28]
  • Winner: Poet in Residence: Culver Academies in Culver, Indiana (2009)[32]
  • Winner: Nadine B. Andreas Public Scholar in Speech Communication, Minnesota State University, Mankato (2008).[33]
  • Winner: Hampton International Film Festival's Sloan Fellowship for Screenwriting (2004)[25]
  • Semi-Finalist: Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting for Mütter (2004)
  • Winner: Grand Prize, Philadelphia Film Festival for Mütter (2003).[24]
  • Winner: Myers Foundation Grant (2001 and 2003)
  • Two-Time Winner: National Poetry Slam: Slammaster's Slam (2000, 2001).
  • Three-time Winner: NYU/Barnes and Noble Monologue Contest (1999–2000)


  1. ^ a b c National Endowment of the Arts 2011 Poetry Fellows
  2. ^ a b Write Bloody Publishing: "Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz Wins Herself a Clampitt Residency
  3. ^ West Chester University: Kevin Aptowicz page
  4. ^ Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe. (2008). Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam. CHAPTER 19: "And Two Become Three; Mouth Almighty Becomes NYC-Urbana and Nuyo's Championship Team Becomes louderARTS" Page 177. Soft Skull Press. ISBN 1-933368-82-9.
  5. ^ Spindle Magazine "Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz: Slamming History" by Guy LeCharles Gonzalez
  6. ^ a b c Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe. (2008). Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam. "New York Poetry Slam Teams from 1990 to 2007" Page 367-368. Soft Skull Press ISBN 1-933368-82-9.
  7. ^ PSI website: WOWps 2010 Participants List
  8. ^ Amazon Listing for The Year of No Mistakes
  9. ^ HTML Giant Interview with Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
  10. ^ Slam Planet IMDb page
  11. ^ Mouth Off coverage on "The Deep End" (Australia radio show)
  12. ^ Junkyard Ghost Revival (Myspace Page)
  13. ^ Elephant Engine High Dive Revival (Myspace Page)
  14. ^ The Poetry Revival website
  15. ^ a b Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe. (2008). Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam. New York City: Soft Skull Press. "Chapter 14: First and Always; Graduates from the NYC Poetry Slam's First Wave" Page 122. ISBN 1-933368-82-9.
  16. ^ a b | National Endowment of the Arts List of Literature Fellows: 1967 - 2007
  17. ^ | National Endowment of the Arts Writer's Corner
  18. ^ Amy Clampitt Website: Original Press Press Announcing Residency
  19. ^ Amy Clampitt Website: List of Poets Who Have Been Awarded the Amy Clampitt Residency
  20. ^ Aptowicz website: Non-Fiction page
  21. ^ a b Soft Skull website: Words In Your Face page
  22. ^ Words In Your Face back cover
  23. ^ Washington Post "Poetry Collections" Sunday, April 20, 2008. By Christopher Schoppa
  24. ^ a b Greater Philadelphia Film Office: SIP Screenwriting Award
  25. ^ a b Aptowicz bio on Sloan Foundation-related website
  26. ^ The Sloan Film Summit by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz. Museum of the Moving Image website.
  27. ^ Mütter Short website
  28. ^ a b c Kelly Writers House ArtsEdge website
  29. ^ Publishers Weekly: Book Deals of April 15, 2013
  30. '^ Amazon Page for Dr. Mütter's Marvels
  31. ^ [1]
  32. ^ Culver Academies Timeline 2009
  33. ^ MSU Forensic Program 2008-2009 Year End Report

External links[edit]

See also[edit]